One thing I find attractive in most Hindu temples that I saw in Malaysia is the life presented in the sculptures; awesomely detailed and coated in vibrant colors. From the online photos I’ve seen, I was lured to see the Sri Mahamariamman Temple with my own eyes and I was not disappointed when I laid my sight onto its facade.
From Jalan Petaling, I made my way to Jalan Sultan and turned a corner to Jalan Tun H S Lee until I saw the familiar tower within walking distance. Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest and richest Hindu Temple in Kuala Lumpur, built in south Indian style featuring the ornate ‘Raja Gopuram’ tower.
Standing on the other side of the street, I took a few more minutes to marvel and digest the visual feast standing in front of me. The amazing 5-tiered Gopuram tower is the tallest structure in the temple standing 75ft. high, decorated with statues of 288 Hindu gods created by chief sculptor S.T. Muniappa.
Realizing that I was beginning to really look like a tourist, wide-eyed and taking photos of the structure, I walked over to the entrance door when a man stopped me and signaled me to head somewhere beside the gate where several other tourists seemed to be taking their footwear off.
A sign posted by the door said ‘Strictly no shoes are allowed inside the temple’ and I understood what the man was suggesting me to do earlier. It was a sacred ground after all. Feeling a bit uncomfortable bare feet, I handed my shoes to the guy manning the small booth and he placed it in one of these square plastic containers and gave me a number in exchange.
I couldn’t help but wonder how this tiny room would look like during holidays where thousands of followers visit the temple grounds. It must be one heck of a confusing and troublesome day for that man and I couldn’t help but let out a smirk before leaving my shoes under his watch.
It felt awkward at first because I’m not used to walking barefoot on cold hard cement, which was actually pretty warm that day due to the weather. Somehow after seeing everyone else, tourists and locals, who’s taking countless photographs of the interior, I became a bit more at ease.
Inside, the ceilings are decorated in the main prayer hall, topped with an onion dome that can be seen from outside. Similar to its front, the interiors were just as ornately detailed and vibrant with more stunning sculptures representing their idols.
There are also four smaller shrines located around the main temple building, one of which is for Lord Ganesha, one of my favorite Hindu gods.
It was a pleasant thing to see a lot of images of this particular god, Ganesha. He is one of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities and can be identified with 4 arms and an elephant head. I really like his character design and what he represents, which is why I’ve done a couple of illustrations back in college with him as the main subject. He is revered as the Remover of Obstacles and Lord of Beginnings; a very positive representation that matches an interesting and colorful character!
Meanwhile, Mariamman is worshipped because she is looked upon as a protector during their sojourn to foreign lands. How perfectly apt for the weekend travelers and backpackers!
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is one of the more memorable stops during my Malaysian solo tour. After visiting this and the Batu Caves, I am now compelled to add Hindu Temples to my regular temple-hopping, as long as they are available and easily accessible. It’s visuals are way different from the Chinese temples I regularly go to on trips, but equally impressive.
Much love to Airphil Express (which now has Manila to Kuala Lumpur flights three times a week) for making this trip possible together with the Malaysian Tourism Board and Travel Guard Chartis for our travel insurance.